Monday, October 12, 2009

In pursuit of a world view

There are three thought threads I need to braid together here before calling it a day:
  1. the question on NPR at noon today, "Does Obama deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace"
  2. school conferences for our 4th grader, and
  3. our metro newspaper
It has been fascinating listening to the arguments and points of view about our President receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace.

What has become very clear is that many Americans are completely devoid of a world perspective. For some reason, those uninformed old-country folks from halfway around the world had the audacity to make a decision about the Peace Prize without consulting with the American people. (Never mind that in any group of 20 individuals you are likely to have 23 opinions.)

Isn't it interesting that we Americans, who know nothing about political, economic or social matters in our closest neighboring countries, feel free to fault the Nobel Committee in it's decision. We, who know nothing about the world at large, simply don't grasp the fact people in other countries know a lot about us, care about what happens in this country, and are deeply influenced by the decisions made here. Our President matters as much to the rest of the world as he does to Americans.

In reading our paper, I noticed that there was an equal amount of space dedicated to national and international news as was dedicated to the comics. Actually, when you took out the advertising, the comics had more column inches. There were 13 pages dedicated to Sports, and less than two pages for comics and barely over a page to national and international stories.

Is it any wonder that when I told a group of people having lunch at work that we were taking our graduating senior to Italy that I was asked, "Why would you do a thing like that?"

The Noble Nobel

This past June, we shared dinner with folks at a water-buffalo farm in Paestum, Italy. We were 15 travelers from 7 different countries who just happened to be at the same place on the same evening.

Everyone around that table expressed to us their relief that the American people had elected Barack Obama as President. It was clear from the conversation that Obama's emergence onto the world stage had already had a significant impact on people across the globe.

Yet, some here are saying he hasn't accomplished anything that deserves the recognition of winning a Noble Prize for Peace.

Well, first, although he didn't single handedly resolve the banking and economic crises in this country, his leadership was central to the efforts of folks here and around the world that were instrumental in avoiding complete collapse. Second, he hasn't provided every American with full access to affordble healthcare yet, but there are over 500 legislators working hard on reforming our healthcare system. Third, there are those in the world who want America destroyed, but their arguments are beginning to ring hollow because this President understands that it takes more than "shock and awe" to promote democracy and bring peace.

We are fortunate enough to have a President who by his very demeanor sets a high level of expectation and whose personal story provides an positive example for our youth. The rest of the world seems to be able to recognize the leadership capabilities of our President. Maybe it would a good thing for the nay-sayers here at home to broaden their perspective just long enough to take a fresh look at this President.